How Much Do Police Officers Make?

police officer job descriptionPolice officers serve the community and protect the lives of the citizens, and property of those in their jurisdiction. They enforce laws, make sure citizens are abiding by the law, and help the community in a wide range of ways.

Police work is often physically demanding if positioned out on the streets. There is a risk of harm, injury, and dangerous situations. Police officers have one of the highest rates of illness, injury, and stress related records of all professions.

To join the police force there are a few different routes a person can take. Typically a high school diploma, to a college, or higher level of academic qualification is required. Most police officers then go through their districts training academy to graduate.

Follow the link if you’re wondering how you can become a police officer.

Police Officer Salary

police officer salaryHow much do police officers make? The average police officers salary is . This is calculated by taking the wage in the middle of all the recorded figures for the occupation.

This median salary is for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Detectives and criminal investigators will earn much more, while wardens will earn slightly less than police officers.

If we combine all data from BLS,  the lowest 10% of earners in the police officer profession earn below $36,550. While the highest 10% earns in excess of $106,090. This difference in salary is down to a number of factors, most of which we will look into throughout this article. 

A police officers starting salary is around $36,550. This depends on which state they are working in, their level of qualification, and within which department. There are numerous roles available to a rookie, leading to different paths throughout their career.

The police force are divided into many different occupations, some of the larger occupations and their median salaries are as follows:

• Detectives and criminal investigators – $81,920
• Sheriff’s patrol officers – $61,380
• Railroad and transit police – $74,030
• Game wardens – $57,710

Benefits of working as a police officer vary across different states and districts. Some states provide allowances for uniforms and additional equipment. While other states give their officers the option to retire younger than the average age.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey 5.74$42.56$88,530
California FlagCalifornia 4.51$42.08$87,520
Alaska FlagAlaska 3.37$36.38$75,670
New York FlagNew York 5.68$34.76$72,310
Washington FlagWashington



Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
State Government2.71$31.38$65,270
Local Government10.30$28.57$59,430
Specialty Hospitals 0.06$26.79$55,730
Postal Service 0.08$26.50$55,120
Surgical and General Medical Hospitals 0.02$26.15$54,400

Police Officer Job Description

What does a police officer doWhat does a police officer do? Police officers serve the community, protecting lives and property. Police offers cover a wide range of duties, here are some of the key duties:

• Patrolling the streets and enforcing laws.
• Responding quickly to emergency calls.
• Enforcing traffic laws and conducting stops.
• Work on legal cases and take the stand in court.
• Record police reports and maintain records.

Police officers career paths often lead to different roles. Advancing to the position of detective, or criminal investigator is a natural progression. In this role some of the key duties include:

• Attending crime scenes to investigate the crime, secure evidence, and make notes.
• Carry out interviews with witnesses and suspects tied to crimes.
• Fill out crime reports and maintain other criminal records.
• Request arrest warrants and execute them.
• Carry out investigations and observe suspected criminal activity.

Police officers apprehend citizens who break the law. They issue penalties, citations, warnings and make arrests. They also have extensive first aid training and can help victims with injuries until the paramedics arrive.

One of the most interesting and unique aspects of being a police officer is the unknowns that can happen on any day. There are a wide range of crimes being committed, and an officer can never be sure what they will come across.

Here are some examples of the different roles of a police officer, and some of their responsibilities:

Uniformed police officers – These officers are typically seen as general officers of the law. They wear uniforms and are easily recognizable to the public. They patrol on foot and by car, responding to emergencies or intervening to crimes in progress. Some officers work on specific types of crime, like traffic crime, narcotics, or violence.

State police officers – Also known as highway patrol officers or state troopers. Although the state police cover a lot of the same duties as uniformed police officers, they have the authority to enforce the law and work anywhere across the state they are stationed in.

Railroad and transit police – These officers patrol transit station and railroad years. They protect the employees of the yards, and the property. They have the authority to stop and check the ID of people on the property, and remove any trespassers.

Detective and criminal investigators – They are not in uniform, and tend to work on specific criminal cases instead of patrolling for crime. They interview witnesses to crimes, conduct interviews with suspects or proven criminals, and participate in raids and arrests.

Police Officer Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama5.806$20.15$41,910
Alaska FlagAlaska3.371$36.38$75,670
Arizona FlagArizona4.791$28.32$58,900
Arkansas FlagArkansas4.746$18.14$37,730
California FlagCalifornia4.512$42.08$87,520
Colorado flagColorado3.988$31.10$64,680
Connecticut FlagConnecticut4.387$31.15$64,790
Delaware flagDelaware4.124$30.82$64,100
Florida FlagFlorida5.008$27.72$57,650
Georgia FlagGeorgia5.57$18.39$38,250
Hawaii FlagHawaii4.719$28.82$59,950
Idaho FlagIdaho4.268$23.38$48,630
Illinois FlagIllinois5.417$32.93$68,500
Indiana FlagIndiana3.889$22.98$47,810
Iowa FlagIowa3.274$25.72$53,490
Kansas FlagKansas4.438$21.18$44,050
Kentucky FlagKentucky3.729$19.86$41,300
Louisiana FlagLouisiana5.733$18.94$39,400
Maine FlagMaine3.563$20.80$43,270
Maryland FlagMaryland5.47$28.79$59,880
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts5.027$28.69$59,680
Michigan FlagMichigan3.696$27.14$56,450
Minnesota FlagMinnesota3.32$28.23$58,720
Mississippi FlagMississippi6.523$15.74$32,740
Missouri FlagMissouri4.792$21.65$45,020
Montana FlagMontana3.455$22.95$47,730
Nebraska FlagNebraska3.576$25.15$52,310
Nevada FlagNevada3.637$32.75$68,110
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire4.464$24.79$51,560
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey5.738$42.56$88,530
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico5.17$22.72$47,260
New York FlagNew York5.681$34.76$72,310
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina4.852$19.79$41,160
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota2.645$24.30$50,550
Ohio FlagOhio4.467$26.32$54,750
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma5.082$20.54$42,720
Oregon FlagOregon2.916$30.60$63,650
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania4.876$29.42$61,200
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island4.206$27.02$56,210
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina5.665$18.57$38,630
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota4.015$20.60$42,840
Tennessee FlagTennessee4.652$20.28$42,190
Texas FlagTexas4.922$25.93$53,940
Utah FlagUtah3.53$22.35$46,500
Vermont FlagVermont4.015$21.57$44,870
Virginia FlagVirginia5.006$24.95$51,900
Washington FlagWashington2.77$34.73$72,240
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia5.333$18.82$39,160
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin4.09$26.19$54,480
Wyomin FlagWyoming4.146$24.77$51,510

Top paying metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
San Francisco / San Mateo / Redwood City, – CA – Metropolitan Division 4.87$48.58$101,040
San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara, – CA 3.45$47.93$99,700
Oakland / Fremont / Hayward, – CA – Metropolitan Division 4.84$47.69$99,200
Nassau / Suffolk, – NY – Metropolitan Division 4.12$46.43$96,570
Edison / New Brunswick, – NJ – Metropolitan Division 4.49$45.36$94,350

Top paying non-metropolitan areas

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Northern Mountains, Region of California – nonmetropolitan area 9.34$40.49$84,210
Mother Lode, Region of California – nonmetropolitan area 10.65$39.82$82,830
Railbelt-Southwest Alaska – nonmetropolitan area 3.80$38.34$79,750
North Coast, Region of California – nonmetropolitan area 4.23$36.24$75,370
Eastern Sierra, Region of California – nonmetropolitan area 9.38$35.02$72,830

Police Officer Job Outlook

Employment of police officers is expected to grow 7% between 2016 and 2026. This is the average of all occupations. However, demand varies considerably from state to state.
There is always a demand to lower crime rates and an increase in public safety. However, due to local and state budgets always tightening, the growth of this profession is lower than the public would like to see.

Police Officer Career Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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